Corporal Michał Rucki, aged 32, farmer, married.
On 19 September 1939, I was taken into captivity in Tarnopol, during the evacuation to Romania.
Camps: Volochysk, Novohrad-Volynskyi, Zaporozhye, Komi ASRR.
The camp in Volochysk – abandoned stables near the sugar plant. We slept on the ground in the stables. Whoever didn’t fit in the stables slept outside. We would receive 100 grams of bread per day and soup once per 24 hours. If we started queuing at 3.00 a.m., we’d be standing in the queue until midnight, and sometimes we wouldn’t even get any of the soup. There was no hygiene. There were about 3,000 of us. At the end of September, we departed from Volochysk for Novohrad-Volynskyi.
Novohrad-Volynskyi camp – barracks. We also slept on the ground. The housing and living conditions were a little bit better than those in Volochysk. Poor hygiene. There were about 10,000 of us.
Zaporozhye camp – wooden barracks next to iron factories on the Dnieper; we slept in bunk beds. Housing and living conditions – passable. Hygiene – passable. We were forced to labor in Zaporozhye. There were 1,600 of us. We worked in factories for a monthly salary of 100 – 200 rubles. Clothes: wadded work jackets, rubber slippers, and hats. Medical assistance was available, as well as a hospital.
From Zaporozhye we went to Komi ASRR, beyond Kotlas. We lived in wooden barracks and we were also forced to labor. The works varied – we’d be logging trees, working with wheelbarrows on the tracks for 12 hours per day. Our pay depended on the quotas we’d fulfilled, and we also received food. Those who met the quota over a period of one month received 5 – 10 rubles for shag. Clothes: wadded work jackets, slippers made from rubber tires, hats. Social life was generally good.
Personally, I wasn’t taken for interrogation. The communist propaganda was spread among us by the political commissars, who’d tell us that Poland would not exist at all.
Composition of POWs: the majority of them were Polish, the rest were Ukrainian, Belorussian, Jewish.
Mortality: I only remember the prisoner Tinowaszczyk from Kielce Voivodeship.
Throughout my stay at the camps I only received one letter.
I was released on 15 July 1941 and taken to Vyazniki. From there, an entire group of us left for Tatishchevo on 3 September. That’s where I joined the army.